Empire of Ivory
Del Rey, Oct 2007, $7.99
The war against Napoleon has turned bad for the English forces since a deadly disease has ravaged the dragon corps. Desperate to find a cure before they lose the aerial war, the English leadership learns the elixir may exist in Africa. As abolitionists protest the African slave trade and demand rights for dragons, British captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire lead a band of warriors with the dragons across the Mediterranean to Africa.
However, the Dark wild continent is unwelcoming to the English as the natives know of the slave trade. Local dragons and their human cohorts go into combat mode to drive the English off the continent. Will and Temeraire know they will lose some friends in the skirmishes even as they struggle with their cause as they agree with the Africans that the slave trade is an abomination and dragons deserve rights as sentient beings.
The forth Napoleonic fantasy (see THRONE OF JADE, HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON, and BLACK POWDER WAR) is a fabsulous refreshing entry as Naomi Novik takes her soaring champions to Africa where the English morality is questioned to the point that the heroic duet wonder if they fight for the wrong side. The battle scenes that include dragons at war seem genuine even with the mythos element. Filled with plenty of action, strong characterizations, and a fascinating locale, the key to this superior early nineteenth century epic remains the quest of human (and dragon) rights as the English run the slave trade and are the invaders claiming they bring a superior lifestyle to these uninformed pagans.